The population of over a million makes Rostov-on-Don the 10th city in Russia and the 30th in Europe. It is also a modern industrial hub of Southern Russia; a cultural center with a large number of universities, colleges, architectural monuments and museums; an agricultural center; an important river port in closest vicinity to the Sea of Azov and the “Gateway to the Caucasus.” In fact, several cities in Southern Russia describe themselves as the “gateway”, but Rostov-on-Don can probably lay the greatest claim: departures board of its Main Bus Station lists numerous destinations of the Caucasus and the Transcaucasia. Until the late USSR Rostov-on-Don had a fame of the “second capital” of so called “thieves in law” - these criminals called it the “Father Rostov”. Today the city is hospitable and absolutely safe for tourists. The place has the largest number of fish markets in Russia, because it stands on the Don River with the Sea of Azov just some 23 miles / 36 kilometers away from it. Interesting fact about Rostov-on-Don is that it has one of the largest cemeteries in Europe: over 500,000 graves are covering about 990 acres. Rostov-on-Don was a Cossack outpost in the 18th century. Today it is nice and green city with magnificent parks and beaches.
Arrival and embarkation. Rostov-on-Don is: one of the largest cities of Russia with a population of over a million people; industrial hub of Southern Russia; cultural center with a large number of universities, colleges, architectural monuments and museums; agricultural center; important river port and ‘Gateway to the Caucasus’. It was a Cossack outpost in the 18th century, and is famous for its magnificent parks and beaches. The distance from Moscow is 1226 kilometers or a bit over 760 miles.
The place has a very nice city center. It will be visited during the city-tour today during first half of the day. Places of interest in Rostov-on-Don include Bolshaya Sadovaya Street the focal point of administrative, business and cultural life of the city; the beautiful park named after Maksim Gorky; very old site where fortress of St. Dimitry Rostovsky was situated in the 2nd half of the 18th century. Also one of the sights is the city’s picturesque quay of the River Don.
Having had a great time in Rostov-on-Don we sail off. The ship leaves in the afternoon, so there is an opportunity to have quite a time on your own in this nice southern city.
Today we are passing though the tremendous artificial waterways named the Volga-Don Canal. It is a part of the United Deep-Water System of Waterways. This canal connects the Volga and the Don rivers.
Formerly named Stalingrad, is the site of one of the most important battles of the WWII. Certainly, the two main monuments of the city are related to the war: the giant “Motherland” sculpture and the panoramic museum dedicated to the famous Battle of Stalingrad. There are other monuments in the city as well, including the Kazan Cathedral, the “Old Sarepta” – the museum of former religious colony.
Former Stalingrad, is the site of one of the toughest battles of the WWII. Certainly, main monuments here are related to the war and soldiers’ glory: the giant ‘Motherland’ sculpture; panoramic museum of the Battle of Stalingrad; Pavlov’s house - legendary Soviet bastion, marked as fortress on personal map of German general Paulus; Mamaev Kurgan (hill) that saw particularly fierce fighting. Certainly, Mamaev Kurgan is visited during city tour.
The city was initially founded in the 16th century as a fortress to protect the southern districts of the Russian Empire. Saratov is the place where Yuri Gagarin the first man in space, has started his career, and has done his first air-flight.
Saratov was founded in the 16th century as a fortress to protect southern districts of Russian Empire. Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, began his career here and did his first air-flight. Visit the museum dedicated to Gagarin and his life. Don’t miss the Conservatoire designed in a Neo-Gothic style, historical Drama Theatre, and Radischev Art Museum with more than 20,000 exhibits. In Saratov there will be a city tour.
Fortress of Samara was founded in 1586 at the confluence of the Volga River and the Samara River to protect Russia from the nomads and to ensure safety on waterways between cities of Kazan and Astrakhan. Just as many other ports on trade routes Samara has been developing rapidly. At the beginning of the 20th century it was already a well-developed city with flourishing trading, grain and flour milling industry. Back then Samara also took first place in wheat production. No wonder that famous local vodka “Rodnik” is still considered one of the best in Russia. Local food industry is also well known for its chocolate and famous “Zhigulevskoye” beer that is produced by original recipe since 1881. Samara boasts: picturesque embankment that is the longest one in Russia; Kuibyshev Square that is the largest one in Europe; the building of Samara Railway Station is the tallest one in Europe: its height is over 331 feet / 101 meters. The tower has an observation deck on top. Stalin’s secret bunker is among great variety of places of interest in Samara. This one is the most fortified bunker among those already taken off the security list. Its depth is comparable with a 12-story building; the bunker has air supplies for 115 people to leave for 5 days.
Samara is a large and important historical port. Just as many well-developed cities of the past, Samara was built where two rivers merge, in order to protect inhabitants and to ensure successful trade. Modern Samara is a fusion of old trade town with well-preserved houses, the features of Soviet period and modern times featuring the Old-Russian teremok-buildings, art nouveau and gothic temples. The city-tour offers more great sights.
Ask any Russian what Ulyanovsk’s claim to fame is, and the most likely reply will be: “Lenin was born there.” The city was a Soviet shrine for almost 70 years. The Lenin Memorial Complex includes the house in which he was born and other buildings associated with his life. The city of Ulyanovsk is also home to SUV maker UAZ and aircraft producer Aviastar.
Lenin was born here. The city was a Soviet shrine for almost 70 years. The Lenin Memorial Complex includes the house in which he was born and other buildings associated with his life. The city of Ulyanovsk is also home to SUV maker UAZ and aircraft producer Aviastar, however, it is one of a handful of cities that has managed to preserve the atmosphere of an old Russian province. The city-tour is going to be quite extraordinary.
"This city, no doubt, is the first in Russia after Moscow, - wrote Catherine the Great in 1763, - clearly, Kazan is the capital of a big kingdom".
Kazan is the capital of Tatarstan Republic, it is very diverse, modern and ancient at the same time. It is among the seven largest cities of Russia. Kazan lies at the confluence of the Volga and Kazanka Rivers in European Russia. In 2009 it was chosen as the "sports capital of Russia".
Cheboksary is the capital of the Chuvash Republic in Russia. The Chuvash people are probably the largest nation of all the Turkic peoples professing Christianity. They belong to the Russian Orthodox Church but also have some pagan beliefs. Cheboksary is known since 1469. In 1555 Russians built a fortress there and it became one of the major trade cities of the Volga Region toward the end of the 17th century. However in little over a century it turned into a quiet provincial town. Yet during its heyday before the 20th century Cheboksary was a well-known center of a bell-casting craft. Bells from Cheboksary, huge and smaller ones, were sold all over Russia and abroad. Nowadays this city with a population of about 600,000 people is among the most ecologically clean and life-comfortable cities of Russia. Cultural opportunities here are often a mix of Chuvash and Russian cultures. The city hosts the Chuvash State Opera and Ballet Theater, Chuvash State Puppet Theater and numerous theaters with performances both in Russian and Chuvash languages. Its Beer Museum is one of the best ones in Russia. Huge monument of Mother Patroness or Mother Chuvashia is one of the memorable symbols of Cheboksary.
We'll have sightseeing and maybe some free time on our own. Enjoy this great place!
Some call Nizhny Novgorod a ‘third capital of Russia’; but Kazan that is also in our itinerary claims this title as well. Nizhny is less cosmopolitan than Moscow and St.Petersburg, and it is obviously smaller. The city has great location in the picturesque place, and lies at the confluence of Volga and Oka rivers.
Kremlin of Nizhny Novgorod is among its most famous sites. This impregnable fortress has turned into historical monument over time, but one of the surrounding streets still strongly resembles fortification moat. Visit to beautiful local Kremlin is a part of a city-tour.
Plyos. It seems that time has no power over this small chamber town. The layout of the place did not have any major changes since the 18th century. The place is cozy and quiet, and people here lead the calm and steady life of the Russian province, just like a century ago. The tiny Plyos is one of the smallest towns in Russia. With a population of just 2,500 inhabitants, it has nine churches, five museums, a theater and a handful of multicolored wooden houses scattered across the wooded slopes of hills and ravines. The town is located on higher hills and the views are just fascinating - several famous Russian artists of the past often found inspiration here that further led to masterpieces. First of all, Plyos is closely connected with the name of famous artist Isaac Levitan, a classical Russian landscape painter who advanced the genre of the ‘mood landscape.’ The most famous mansion in Plyos is a house with a mezzanine on the Volga embankment which is the Levitan’s Museum today: the artist stayed in this house for three summers in 1888-1890 when he painted about 200 of his works in Plyos. These masterpieces are now displayed in the world's best museums. There is also the Museum of Russian Landscape Art close by.
It seems that time has no power over this small chamber town. The layout of the place did not have major changes since 18th century. The place is cozy and quiet, and people here lead calm and steady life of Russian province, just like century ago. The town is located on higher hills; views are just fascinating - famous artists of the past often found inspiration here that further led to masterpieces. Quite a lot of time is spent on your own today. Take a walk along the cobbled streets of this hospitable place; go up the Cathedral Hill, breathe the fresh air and take a look around… Maybe you’ll create great painting of your own afterwards? Who knows…
One of the loveliest cities of the Golden Ring, Kostroma is certainly a highlight of the cruise. The pride of Kostroma is the museum at the former Ipatyevsky Monastery founded in the 14th century by the Zernov family, the forebearers of the Godunovs. The crypt of the Monastery became the Godunov burial vault. Kostroma is the only Russian city retaining the classical layout of the 18th/19th centuries, with streets and boulevards fanning out like the spokes of a wheel from a central square.
During a city tour today there will be a visit to Ipatyevsky Monastery; other wonders of this lovely place are seen as well.
Yaroslavl’s coat of arms depicts a bear with a gold poleaxe. The city was founded in 1010 on the site of the pagan settlement of “Bear's Corner” by the Prince of Kievan Russ, Yaroslav the Wise and was thusly named after the Prince Yaroslav. In the beginning it was just a wooden fortress but its advantageous location on the river trade route along the Volga River turned Yaroslavl into a thriving city. Over the course of 200 years it became the capital of Yaroslavl Principality. In 1238 the peaceful life of Yaroslavl was ruined by the Tatar & Mongolian invasion. Like many other Russian cities of those times, it was burned and ransacked. The city was recovered from ruins and became a part of Moscow Principality a little more than 200 years after. In the 17th century Yaroslavl becomes the second largest city of the Russian state after Moscow. Once, during times of Polish invasion, the city became the interim capital of the state. Today the city is an important Volga River port with a population of 600,000 that stretches for 18 miles on both its banks. The Historical Centre of the City of Yaroslavl is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Uglich is perfect for any traveler ready to experience the quiet side of Russia. It is one of the oldest, and probably one of the most beloved towns of the Russian province. Once a place of pilgrimage of Russian Czars, Uglich is now known as one of the cities of the Golden Ring of Russia. Although it is still a popular place of pilgrimage, 23 churches and 3 monasteries are located in town and around it. According to a local legend the origin of this town goes back to 937. Uglich has a preserved architectural environment of late 18th – early 19th centuries. The Soviet-era constructions of the Uglich Reservoir and hydroelectric complex harmoniously blended into the urban landscape without disturbing its integrity and historic charm. Much has happened to Uglich, but the main event, which overturned the city's history, occurred on 15 May, 1591. On that very day, in mysterious circumstances, Prince Dmitry, an eight-year-old son of Ivan the Terrible, was killed on this day and found dead in the garden. The view of the town as it is approached by ship from the Volga River is especially lovely with its Transfiguration Cathedral and Church of St. Dmitry on the Blood standing in beauty on the banks.
The ancient Church of St. Dmitri on the Blood is one of great sites visited on our guided walking tour. Uglitch has a fabulous flea market.
Moscow has been the capital of Russia since the late 15th century. Some sources call this cosmopolitan city “the northernmost and coldest megacity and metropolis on Earth.” The Moscow Kremlin is located in the city center; it is home to the President and the treasures of the Russian Empire in the Armory and Treasury. The Moscow Kremlin is the world’s largest medieval fortress. The Kremlin and Red Square are UNESCO World Heritage sites. St. Basil’s Cathedral, known for its colorful, onion-shaped domes, is located on Red Square. The Novodevichy Convent in south-western Moscow is another UNESCO World Heritage site that is normally seen while on our city-tour. Moscow, with its population of 12,000,000 (official data), is the largest city in Russia and in Europe. According to some sources the real population of Moscow is about 20,000,000 inhabitants, therefore it is among the top ten largest cities of the world. By the way, Moscow claims the largest number of billionaires in the world. Per Forbes, there are 84 billionaires in the city. Another interesting fact about the city is about McDonald’s: the first restaurant there was opened on January 31, 1990 and the line to the restaurant ran for several kilometers.
City-tour includes Tverskaya Street, Red Square, St. Basil’s Cathedral, Bolshoi Theater and Moscow State University for panoramic view. Great variety of VIP and affordable optional tours are offered.
Today it might be a full day on your own: the ship is docked within 10-minute walk from metro station; metro ride to the city center takes some 25 minutes; and Moscow is yet to reveal its numerous secrets - so enjoy your personal discoveries! Optional for today: tour to the city of Sergiev Posad that is famous for its picturesque Lavra. Word ‘lavra’ is used to define the largest male monasteries in Russia. Lavra of Sergiev Posad has been established by one of the most significant Russian Saints - St. Sergius of Radonezh. So get ready to sheer beauty of the place and get ready to listen to many legends.
Morning tour of the Kremlin. The Moscow Kremlin is the former residence of Russian Czars, an architectural ensemble of unique beauty, which took shape between the 15th and 20th centuries. The center of the Kremlin is the Cathedral Square, a unique complex of masterpieces of medieval architecture. The architectural ensemble of the Cathedral Square consists of several cathedrals and palaces; one of them, the Assumption Cathedral, is the oldest Moscow Kremlin church, and one of the most important ones in Russia. On Kremlin grounds there are also the famous Czar Cannon of the 16th century and the Czar Bell of the 18th century. Breakfast, lunch and dinner aboard.
Time to bid farewell to your new friends after unforgettable journey through this fascinating land. Disembarkation.